COMMENT: The faces change but it's the same old story at Everton
There are certain shows that flourish regardless of the cast.
It is often because the writing is so exceptionally good, or the basic premise so strong and well-defined. Star names can come and go to all sorts of public dismay and fan brouhaha, and yet overall quality never seems to drop.
The likes of the Sopranos, the Wire, Doctor Who, Grey's Anatomy and ER have been praised for their ability to kill off, regenerate, or write away popular characters, and robustly maintain a high standard and vital essence.
Everton are a bit like that...except the opposite. It doesn't seem to matter what changes are made to personnel - from the manager, to the players, to the owners - they continue to remain stubbornly and consistently Everton.
Now it is certainly early days as far as the Moshiri era is concerned, and Marco Silva's hot seat must still stink of stale gravy. But you'd forgive any Blues fan to react to the start of the season with a weary same-old-story sigh.
No one is prematurely judging the boss, nor condemning recent signings as flops, but there is a sense of dismay that is born of waiting so long for something good to happen that it starts to feel like you're hexed.
How else do you explain the laudable achievement of making West Ham look good. West Ham! In fairness, Sunday's visitors played well and took their chances, but the Toffees make far too many iffy teams look more than capable.
A major part of Everton's problem *is* their ever-changing cast. It doesn't lend itself to building anything, and just becomes a self-fulfilling clusterfuck. That said, shoddy recruitment is far more to blame than very necessary exits.
The current setup is not without good players and excellent potential, but it's such a mishmash of opposing visions and differing methods. It's like each new architect is adding their own extension to a shoddily maintained bungalow.
In a strong team, Cenk Tosun's hard work would be supplemented by the potency of a colleague; Gylfi Sigurdsson's rare technique would be allied with the speed and movement of others. As it is, Tosun looks impotent and Gylfi one-paced.
They live in a team in a permanent state of transition. It's depressing for the fans and a tad unfair on the younger players too. Novices are judged as part of a chaotic, disjointed whole. Of course they won't properly flourish.
The likes of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Mason Holgate, and the struggling Jonjoe Kenny shouldn't be seen as part of the problem because they shouldn't be part of the answer. These are players to test and blood, not rely on.
A manager of Silva's nous will be acutely aware that his defence has no proper leader, his midfield has all the dynamism and urgency of a vegan at a barbecue, and the attack is as aimlessly offensive as a UKIP manifesto.
Alas he can only work with what he has inherited, with a few hasty add-ons of his own. It is part of his job to make it work and show incremental progress, but that isn't helped by the long-standing sense of ennui.
The fans in general are a patient lot - they have to be - but it must be frustrating. Every thread of optimism is quickly snatched away, and new dawns at Goodison are like buses - you're waiting for something that may never come.
That said, there are reasons to hopeful. Silva will studiously implement his own vision and remains in the fans' good books by simply not being Sam Allardyce. Richarlison is class, and both Yerry Mina and André Gomes are to come.
But it's hard to remain upbeat when the faces change and yet the story remains the same. The Goodison faithful deserve some kind of happy ending.